Dear members,


Welcome to the Society’s latest newsletter.


Close to 60 of our members attended the Annual Lunch at the Riviera Hotel in Carcavelos on 12 February. This was our first indoor gathering since the pandemic began. Let’s hope that recent improvements to the COVID-19 situation mean that we will be able to hold further indoor meetings in the coming months.


Many thanks to Carol Rankin for her fascinating talk on British connections in Lisbon - 1850s to the early 20th century: Personages, Professions, Places and Pastimes, and for bringing along several interesting mementoes. Carol’s presentation inspired recollections by other members who were either born in Portugal or have lived here for many years, and led to some lively conversations over lunch. We present a brief report of Carol’s talk in this newsletter.


With the last newsletter having contained two articles about the Azores, we now move to Madeira. We are pleased to welcome Cláudia Faria, who was born and bred in Madeira, as one of our authors. Cláudia has contributed an article about the many achievements of the Phelps family in Madeira, while our Council member, Andrew Shepherd, discusses the time when the sugar processor, Harry Hinton, caused much controversy in the Portuguese Parliament.


I should also like to draw your attention to our news item about Portugal-UK 650, an initiative to mark the 650th anniversary of the Anglo-Portuguese Alliance, with which the Society is collaborating.


Spring will soon be upon us and in the next few months we shall be concentrating on walks and visits. Our walk around historic Cascais scheduled for Saturday 19 March is already fully booked but hopefully we can arrange a repeat.


With best wishes,


Edward Godfrey


NEWS see more News here

NOVEMBER 14, 2021

Royal British Legion Centenary Anniversary Remembrance Service, Lisbon - November 2021

The 100th Anniversary of the RBL


OCTOBER 20, 2021

The Lines of Torres Vedras Day celebrations - October 2021

Our Vice-Chairman receives an award on behalf of the Friends of the Lines of Torres Vedras

EVENTS see more Events here

FEBRUARY 12, 2022

Annual Lunch 2022

With a talk on "British connections in Lisbon - 1850s to the early 20th century"


NOVEMBER 7, 2021

Report on the visit to the Lisbon Aqueduct

The Society visited on 13 November 2021

ARTICLES see more Articles here

St. George’s Anglican Church, Ponta Delgada, São Miguel re-visited, with some notes on the British presence on the island.

Author: Edward Godfrey



Year: 2021

Subject Matter: NA


The Battles of Flores: English warships, Privateers and Pirates in the Azores

Author: Curtis Stewart



Year: 2021

Subject Matter: NA


Did you know?

Did you know that the bust of Edward VII, to be found in the Parque Eduardo VII in Lisbon was paid for by the British Historical Society? Sculpted by the Irish sculptor, Albert Bruce-Joy, and resting on a stone plinth with an inscription acknowledging the Society’s role, the sculpture was inaugurated on 27 March 1985 by Queen Elizabeth II.


The visit of Edward VII to Portugal in 1903 was his first trip overseas as King. Relations between the two countries were still strained, as a result of the 1890 British Ultimatum, in which Lord Salisbury demanded the withdrawal of the Portuguese troops from areas of southern Africa. The visit must also be seen in the context of the growing republicanism in Portugal that would lead to the overthrow of the monarchy in 1910 and in the context of the friendship between King D. Carlos and Edward.


The original plan was that the visit should be kept secret until the last moment. However, word quickly spread in Lisbon. This angered Edward VII but he decided to go ahead with the trip and arrived by ship in Lisbon on 2 April. He was welcomed by a military parade. During his time in Portugal, he visited Sintra and Cascais, went to a performance at the Teatro S. Carlos, went pigeon shooting at the Tapada da Ajuda, attended a bullfight at the Campo Pequeno, witnessed a firework display, and gave his official patronage to the Royal British Club.


The visit attracted considerable attention from all sectors of Portuguese society, including republicans. Special low railway fares and the offer of free meals attracted farmers from the countryside, who mixed on the streets with Lisbon’s elite to watch the arrival parade go by. Some people did very well out of the event: the day before the King’s arrival the Diário de Notícias had 115 advertisements for windows to be rented on the route of the parade. One of the horses in the parade died during the ride: it was its way of protesting against the English, joked the writer, Ramalho Ortigão.


For a photo of the bust and plinth, please click here.

The British in Portugal

Alice Lawrence Oram (1864 – 1948) was the daughter of William Oram and Jane Lawrence, the owners of Lawrence’s Hotel in Sintra. The hotel, with its association with Lord Byron and other famous visitors, gave her the chance to meet many writers and artists at a young age.


She became a journalist and was a correspondent for the Associated Press, Reuters and the Daily Mail. Her report for the Mail on the revolution of 5 October 1910 was the first news of the event to be released abroad. It is said that she walked around Lisbon under gunfire in order to find out what was going on. Her home, close to the palace of the Dukes of Palmela, gave her an ideal location to observe the comings and goings of Lisbon’s elite.


In 1912 she was briefly arrested for alleged participation in a conspiracy to restore the monarchy, and was held at the Aljube prison in the centre of Lisbon. The photo above was taken when she was in prison. The trial, which became a cause célèbre in Lisbon, quickly collapsed. She admitted to having been in contact with royalists but argued that this was necessary for her work as a journalist.


In May 1916, Oram went with Virgínia Quaresma, the first Portuguese woman to be a professional journalist, on a dive on a submarine. The voyage, on the Portuguese Navy’s first modern submarine, was said to have been the first trip by female reporters in a submarine, at least in Portugal. In later years, she was involved with the first Portuguese press agency, Lusitânia, which aimed to be a news agency that would connect the entire Portuguese-speaking world.


Oram is buried in the British Cemetery in Lisbon in a family grave close to the Henry Fielding memorial.

If you have any suggestions for people who could be included in future newsletters in this section, please let us know at



The Marginal in 1941. Who was responsible for its construction and how is he celebrated?

The answer to the quiz can be found at the end of "Queen Elizabeth's first visit to Lisbon", below.

Queen Elizabeth's first visit to Lisbon

We discuss above one of the events from the Queen’s visit to Portugal in 1985. But, of course, this was her second visit, the first having been in 1957. The official visit began two days after the Queen’s arrival in Portugal. She and Prince Philip first spent two days together on a private visit. They had not seen each other for four months as Philip had been in the southern hemisphere on the Royal Yacht Britannia. These two days were described by the British press as their “second honeymoon”.


President Salazar pulled out all the stops for this first visit, hoping to strengthen the alliance with Britain in order to gain international legitimacy for the Estado Novo and its colonial policy, which was being increasingly called into question at the United Nations. It is said that the Queen’s visit was the one occasion during Salazar’s rule when he was not trying to save money. Even so, he discouraged ostentatious dress on the first evening of the official visit, when a reception was held at the Ajuda Palace and he had handpicked most of the participants.


But there was nothing he could do about the second evening when, after a dinner at the British Embassy, the royal couple went to the opera at the Teatro São Carlos. It was a chance for Lisbon’s elite to dust off the jewels they had had few chances to wear in public under the Estado Novo. Apparently, when the lights dimmed, there was still a dazzling light in the opera house as the ladies present were wearing so much jewellery. 


If any member has memories of the first visit by Queen Elizabeth II, or can recall stories told by their friends or relatives, we should like to hear from you at


Answer to Quiz.

Joaquim António Velez Barreiros, better known as the Visconde de Nossa Senhora da Luz or, simply, as the Visconde da Luz, built a summer home in Cascais in 1862. He persuaded a group of residents to build a road between Cascais and Oeiras. The improved communication with Lisbon was a factor in attracting the Portuguese Royal Family to spend part of its summers in Cascais, which thus became the country's leading seaside resort. 


The Visconde da Luz still gives his name to a street, a travessa and a garden in Cascais, a fitting tribute to a man who did so much for the town.

Members' News

David Ian Smith – in memoriam

5th January 1927 – 18th November 2021


David was born in 1927 in Cobh (pronounced ‘Cove’, formerly Queenstown) in County Cork, Ireland. His father was an officer in the Royal Artillery and sadly died young, although his mother lived to be 98 and his sisters are now well into their 90s. Having been educated at boarding schools in Ireland, David studied at Trinity College Dublin, from where he cherished happy memories.


He then embarked on a professional career, which was virtually all spent abroad, starting with a position working for the government of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland (now Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe). It was here that he met Suzanne when she was just 18, as she was studying at the newly created University College of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, which was an integral part of the University of London. Suzanne had chosen to study in Africa because her father was the British Consul in Durban, South Africa at the time. Two years’ later, they married in Durban. They were happily married for 59 years.


David was seconded from Rhodesia to the Congo Republic (later to become Zaire and now known as the DRC) to be the British Vice-Consul in Élisabethville (now Lubumbashi). In his book, ‘To Katanga and Back: A UN Case History’, Conor Cruise O’Brien describes in detail David’s role during the ‘Consular War of Nerves’ between Britain/Rhodesia and the Congo/UN over Katanga province’s bid for succession, which led to the assassination of President Lumumba in 1961. After Rhodesia’s Unilateral Declaration of Independence in 1965, David opted to stay in Africa, returning to the Congo to work for Blackwood Hodge for 10 years, selling heavy mining equipment. It was here that their two children, Louise and Andrew, were both born. The family had to abandon the country in secret during troubles in 1974, leaving many belongings behind, although miraculously three travelling chests turned up in the UK six months later!


In the late ‘70s David was contracted by the UN to negotiate agreements with countries to participate in the UN World Fertility Statistical Survey. For nearly 10 years he worked all over Latin America and Africa, before being posted to the UN in the Hague. David then became the British Vice-Consul in Amsterdam, where he stayed for 8 years, retiring in 1992.


He and Suzanne then moved to Portugal to take care of Suzanne’s parents at their ‘quinta’ near Coimbra. While enjoying the outdoor life, the remoteness led to a decision to move to Estoril, in 2013.


David will be sorely missed by his family and friends and will be fondly remembered for his modesty, sense of right, and gentleness, as well as his engaging smile that lit up as he shared a joke or earnestly engaged in conversation, especially with those who like him had lived overseas.


Some of our members recently attended the launch of a new book on Marshal William Carr Beresford. You can find full details at:




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Carcavelos, September, 2018


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